Coming off of the longest championship run in NBA history, the Los Angeles Lakers might begin their road to back-to-back titles much sooner than they expected. According to a report from Shams Charania of The Athletic on Friday, the NBA is hoping to start the 2020-21 season on Dec. 22.
For some teams, that date will mark their first game in nine months. For the Lakers, though, it will only be 72 days removed from Game 6 of the NBA Finals against the Miami Heat. For context, the Toronto Raptors had 131 days between their NBA Finals victory over the Golden State Warriors and their season opener against the New Orleans Pelicans. In other words, it would be an unusually quick turnaround for the Lakers.
Danny Green talked about the proposed start date during a recent appearance on “The Ringer NBA Show,” and, unsurprisingly, he’s not too keen on the idea of restarting the season in less than two months. Additionally, he doesn’t expect his teammates to feel differently than he does — especially not his older teammates:
“I’m not there. Dec. 22 is not even in my mind. I think most guys, if they said we start in December, would be like ‘I’m not there.’ You know what I mean? — if I had to guess. Because we have a lot of vets on our team. It’s not like we have a bunch of young guys and rookies. We probably have like three or four young guys or rookies.
“Let’s just say we’re fortunate to bring the same team back: We have (Rajon Rondo), who’s on year 15, Dwight’s year 16, Bron’s year 18, JaVale, and these guys just played a whole season. Bron’s been in the Finals 10 years out of his 17 years, which is unbelievable. Mentally, it’s draining to do that, and to have that quick of a restart ... I wouldn’t expect to see him there. I wouldn’t expect to see him probably for the first month of the season. He’ll probably be working out with us, probably do some playing, but I just don’t expect guys to want to be there or show up willingly at this moment.
“It might be different in two weeks when guys are like ‘All right, I’m getting back in the gym to start working out,’ but when we get back in the gym it’s not right to basketball.”
Update: Green later claimed he was kidding, but his larger points about health concerns still stand:
And Green’s no spring chicken himself. Not only is he 33 years old; he’s coming off of back-to-back championship-winning seasons as a starter. In fact, the only player on the Lakers that had as short of an offseason as Green in 2019 was Quinn Cook, who also played in the NBA Finals.
The show will go on, just don’t cry a river when stars sit out TV games... esp Top teams that played a longer full season ... https://t.co/sCw5NmhBLp— Jared Dudley (@JaredDudley619) October 26, 2020
Green and his veteran teammates might be better-equipped for a quick restart because of the four-months they had off from March to July, but they’re still only two weeks removed from playing a three-month season in the Orlando bubble. They have to be tired, and that’s without mentioning injuries they still have to recover from.
Let’s hope the NBA is a little more lenient when it comes to load management at the start of the season, especially since fans aren’t paying money to see anyone play anymore. It might a little bit of a disappointment to see James sit out games, but if it means that he’ll be 100% for the postseason, then so be it.